Mini steppers can be helpful but like any piece of fitness equipment, they have both pros and cons. By knowing these you can make an educated decision about whether a mini stair stepper is worth it to you.
Pros of mini stair steppers
Mini steppers are small devices with two steps that can move up and down. You use these machines by standing on them on pushing the pedals down one at a time.
While this is not the most impressive-looking workout, it definitely offers some valuable benefits.
1. Offers health benefits
While there are of course limits, moving more typically offers a variety of health benefits. Challenging your body more starts a variety of internal processes that generally make you healthier and happier in the long term.
Mini steppers can help weight loss, improve cardiovascular health, improve your mood, improve your sleep, etc. At least to a larger extent than sitting still.
2. Allow you to exercise at home
Most people know that exercising is good for them but there are a variety of things that make it more challenging to do. Some of these hurdles are the result of having to exercise outside or somewhere else.
One of the pros of mini stepper workouts is that you can do them in the comfort of your own home.
This makes it so you are not dependent on the weather conditions, don’t have to drive 15 minutes to your local gym, don’t need any transport, etc.
Mini steppers are not the only type of fitness equipment that offers at-home workouts but this is definitely a pro over many other workouts for many people.
3. Light and compact
The next positive that stands out in mini steppers is that they are light and compact compared to other fitness equipment.
Their weight is typically between 15 and 25 pounds (6.8 kg and 11.3 kg). The dimensions are typically under 25″ L (63.5 cm) x 18″ W (45.7 cm) x 15″ (38.1 cm).
These details make mini steppers easy to store and transport.
Certain types of exercise, the typical example is running, are somewhat harder on your body due to the “jumps” that are part of them.
Especially if you have a few extra pounds to lose and/or do not work out often, this can be challenging for body parts like your knees, ankles, back, etc.
Many people want to start with something low-impact, something that does not involve “shocks” to their bodies, to start strengthening their bodies and reducing the pressure the body parts have to deal with.
Mini steppers are one of these low-impact workout options.
5. Combinable with other activities
While even more dynamic workouts like running are combinable with listening to music or podcasts, there are definitely differences between workouts in terms of what your options are for doing other activities at the same time.
For example, mini steppers and stationary bikes involve smaller movements that make them combinable with things like watching tv and catching up with friends and family.
Being able to do these other activities at the same time can increase the enjoyment you get out of your workouts (or at least make them less boring).
In turn, this can improve workout consistency which is important to get the most out of the other pros.
6. Can improve balance
This next aspect of mini steppers can be both a pro and a con depending on the individuals interested in them and their training goals.
Standing on a mini stair stepper and using it can be somewhat challenging when it comes to balance. The upside of this is that balance is a skill that can be improved by doing challenging things in safe amounts.
A potential downside is that mini steppers could be too challenging for balance.
7. Relatively budget-friendly
The price of mini steppers is another aspect that you can see as both positive and negative. On the one hand, mini stair steppers are relatively budget-friendly compared to many other fitness equipment options.
On the other hand, there are also cheaper ways than mini steppers to move more, for example walking.
Cons of mini stair steppers
Similar to other fitness equipment options and workouts, mini stair steppers also have their cons. These can range from slightly inconvenient to turning certain people to other exercises.
8. There are more effective workouts
Moving more and more intensely (in safe amounts) is often beneficial for your body.
Mini steppers can definitely help you move more compared to something like just sitting but at the same time, there are more intense and effective workouts out there.
Intenser low-impact options include cycling, elliptical machines, stairmasters, swimming, rowing machines, etc. If you don’t mind something higher-impact running can be very effective.
9. Likely does not build muscle
The claims of some mini stepper brands may imply differently but mini steppers are not great for building muscle. Similar to other areas of your physical health, to grow and strengthen muscles you have to challenge them enough.
If you have not worked out in a while and set your mini stair stepper to a high resistance setting, you could potentially build a small amount of muscle. However, soon the workout will stop being challenging enough for your muscles to do so.
After that point, you will still be able to get the benefits of cardiovascular workouts but if building muscle is your main goal, something like a set of resistance bands will be a better choice.
10. Requires some balance
Something that was mentioned before is that mini steppers can require a decent amount of balance. This can be a pro if it is challenging but not too challenging. In that case, it can help improve your balance.
At the same time, certain individuals, especially the elderly, may find mini steppers too challenging to use when it comes to balance requirements.
There are models with handles to help with this, but even for these mini steppers, you do need to do some extra balancing yourself.
11. Does not have the biggest weight capacity
There are sturdier models too but most mini steppers have weight capacities of 250 pounds (113 kg) or less.
Even if your body weight is not higher than this, other fitness equipment options may give a safer feeling. Both in terms of sturdiness and durability.
12. Require an extra investment
Mini steppers are definitely not the most expensive but one of their cons is that they do require a higher investment than other good workouts.
Some examples include just taking a walk in the neighborhood, using the bike you have more, bodyweight workouts, etc.
13. They won’t last forever
Most cardio equipment options will not last as long as a metal barbell with weight plates and the mini stepper is no exception to this.
Mini stepper brands often offer no extra warranty and if they do, these are typically around 3 months to a year. This is definitely not as impressive as for example a stairmaster with 10-year warranties on certain parts.
From customer reviews, it looks like most quality mini steppers typically last around 6 months to 1 year when used in moderate amounts. This is a potential con to keep in mind when making your decision.
Is a mini stepper worth it?
Whether a mini stepper is worth it ultimately depends on how much you value the pros, mind the cons, your budget, and how much you like fitness equipment and exercise alternatives.
Mini steppers can be a budget-friendly way to get in some extra light to moderate low-impact movement in the comfort of your own home. Their compact sizes and light weights make them easy to store and move.
On the other hand, if you have the budget and storage room for it, something like a stationary bike could offer more intense workouts and the health benefits that come with that. Bodyweight workouts can also already offer a lot of benefits.